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March 5, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are, Episode 1 Sarah Jessica Parker

"Who Do You Think You Are?" premiered tonight Friday, March 5 (8-9 p.m. ET) is NBC's official partner on the series and is a recommended website for genealogists.

The show gave viewers an up-close and personal look inside the family history of Sarah Jessica Parker

I watched with great interest and made a list of what I loved and what I didn't like about Who Do You Think You Are (Episode 1). I'm interested in your thoughts - did you watch the show? What did you think of it? How would you compare it to Faces of America (if you watched that show)

I enjoyed Who Do You Think You Are first episode much more than Faces of America. I liked how it focused on one person's journey and didn't jump around from person to person showing us bits and pieces from each, as Faces of America did. I also liked seeing Sarah Jessica Parker physically on the journey, not just sitting and waiting to be told to turn a page in a book as in Faces of America. I liked the connection that Sarah Jessica Parker began to feel with America as she journeyed to places her ancestors had lived.

The show gave historical context to Sarah Jessica Parker's ancestors. It helped Sarah Jessica Parker connect to them as real people living real lives. She not only saw them as part of history, she connected to them as people not just names and dats.

I liked how Sarah Jessica Parker did some of her own research rather than rely exclusively on help from historians, librarians and genealogists. They did do a lot of research for her and helped her a great deal which showed just how knowledgeable and helpful such professionals are, but I was glad to see Sarah Jessica at a microfilm reader and engaging in the task.

I really liked how the show captured the excitement of researching one's family and making a find such as an ancestor on a census record. Genealogy is exciting. It's fun and it's a wonderful mystery waiting to be solved! Who Do You Think You Are captured that and for that I give it a huge tip of my hat!

What didn't I like? I'm going to nitpick now because I didn't find any major fault with the show BUT I found Sarah Jessica Parker's responses to details of her ancestors overly dramatic. That detracted from my overall enjoyment of the show.

One event actually made me cringe. When an original 1692 document was handed to Sarah Jessica Parker no one wore gloves. The librarian taking it out of the folder did not wear gloves and Sarah Jessica was not given any. As well Sarah Jessica Parker had a pencil which she used to point to the words as she read the document. I cringed every time her pencil jabbed towards a word and just barely escaped touching the paper.

I chuckled seeing Sarah Jessica Parker in those empty libraries and archives, consulting with genealogists and historians. Oh to find an empty library where every book and microfilm and every staff member is just waiting for ME to come along! I know, I know, it's a tv show and Sarah Jessica Parker is a celebrity so obviously they had to film it when no one was there. But still, it made me chuckle.

Overall I really enjoyed Episode 1 and look forward to Episode 2!

My Rating for Episode 1 is A-


Jo said...

I agree with much of what you said about the pros of the show. I enjoyed it much more than Faces of America mainly because it stayed focused on one person and was therefore easier to follow. But what really excited me was they were talking about my ancestors also. I am descended from Esther Dutch Elwell also but I didn't realized she had been accused of witchcraft. It was so exciting to see that original document. WOW and then I googled and to my surprise there is a digital image of that document online. I am already looking forward to the next episode.

Holly said...

First of all, To Jo...Wow they covered one of your ancestors! Now I would be thrilled on that one.
Ok I will nitpick. It was focused,I will give it that. Howver, Not many people are lucky enough to find documentation that old, and not many of us are able to jaunt all around the country to find information. To that I feel it is too 'staged' and of course it is to sell to folks new to genealogy.

I have caught Faces of America only once, but liked it and want to see it again. It is structured differently.

Maybe they should hit on Ancestry Brick Walls next-they can start with me!...oh one can dream.

Unknown said...

I found the program intriguiging. I could hardly wait for the commercials to be over! I just wish each of us could "go" where ever our research leads us. I can't imagine bounching across the crountry in person from CA to MA. It WOULD make research easier. The program did show the progression of following the leads and did show one of the conflicts that we normally find, i.e. the man dead in one state and then on the census a year later in another state. I thought the program was well done.

Diane said...

I have not seen Faces of America (living in the dark ages?) but did watch "Who Do You Think You Are" with interest.

I agree, for the most part, with your review and analysis of the presentation. To expand on it, I felt some areas were lacking in explanation. The professionals consulted could have offered more details about the records they produced rather than having them miraculously appear. I expect the single document loose in the manila folder was staged for filming and can only hope it was a duplicate made to look old. You are 100% correct in that an original document of that age should have been in acid free storage and handled only with white gloves and much care.

The lady explaining how 17 year old Elizabeth "Betsy" Hubbard was testifying to seeing a "spectre" of the women hovering over Mary Fitch did nothing to explain why Elizabeth was not also accused of witchcraft. I found that curious.

To be a well known actress, one would think Sarah J. Parker might have a more extensive vocabulary than we were shown. Her "un - B - lievable" was certainly overused. A few adjectives that come to mind -- Amazing! How Exciting! What a wonderful find.

I did also like the illustration of traveling to see the places and records. The Internet is a wonderful tool, but on site research is unbeatable -- when it can actually be achieved.

It will be interesting to see how they present the ancestors of some of the other celebrities and I am looking forward to the next episode.

Professor Dru said...

Many people have commented on the way Sarah Jessica Parker reacted to her family's researching findings. I don't think she was acting, I think this may be part of her normal reactions. I know people who respond to exciting things just as enthusiastically as Sarah did in this episose.

I'm sure that in the upcoming episodes we will see different types of responses to the new family information learned by these celebrities. At the end of the episodes, it would be interesting to do a comparison of these various responses.

Unknown said...

I really liked the program and look forward to the next episode. I would have liked to see HOW the genealogists found the information and WHERE they looked - interviews with them! I liked seeing Sarah go from place to place and wished I had the resources to do so myself. Maybe the program will cause a lot of people to begin and an outcry to stop the closings of libraries and archives that we are now hearing about.

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to be critical about the program, I enjoyed it and was only too happy that we are finally getting some TV programs about genealogy. I also agree with pkathy in hoping that it may have an effect on the closure of libraries and archives by showing that a lot of people are interested in the records they hold; and also in helping to prevent the destruction of record series which is also happening.

The Grandmother Here said...

I enjoyed the show and am looking forward to the next one. But...did you notice that SJP wasn't wearing her seatbelt in the car?!

Absolutely Literate said...

The no gloves thing makes me cringe too!